but i wasn't finished telling you about the rugs, the air-chemical stink, the gorgon manager, the cafe countertop where the spills go, the frappucino machine where the iced drinks are blended, the frozen cheese-stuffed pretzels, the journals and notebooks with bland designs, the entranceway with books that anyone can steal because they are outside the rfid detector, the tables where workers smoke butts outside, the toys that get stuck in the escaltor, the constant up-down up-down on the escalator, the never-ending tidying, the carts that hold new books to be specially placed in easy-to-buy locations, the hallmark workers doing their own thing in the card section (what a racket!), the newspapers put up first thing in the morning, the soul-sucked affectless workers, the overworked receiving manager, breaking down 130 boxes of books a day, five days a week, box-cutters, books flying from the boxes to the carts, sorted for shelving, the foul-mouthed managers telling you you're not moving fast enough.

but that does not begin to get at what is in the rugs, the carpet, the parapet of books. i have seen inventory crews come in in the dead of night and count every book in the store, like an army with their own lieutenants, all for the corporate bean-counters. i have seen necking in the aisles, and older men stealing time with the paperbacked penthouse letters books. i have seen munchkin-sized staff working in the kids department, picking up patrons' trash, smiling and genuinely exicted to interact with a kid and his/her family. from kids you can see the outside -- the greatest section of windows and natural light coming into the store. there are toys there, and stuffed plush animals, yes we sell more than books and media. i have never caught a thief.

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